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We Are All Connected to This Land

We Are All Connected to this Land by Phyllis Atkins

Artist: Phyllis Atkins
Location: Bear Creek Bridge (8448 King George Boulevard)
Category: Civic collection
Year Installed: TBA 2018

About We Are All Connected to This Land

We Are All Connected to This Land is a design cut from powder-coated red aluminum and attached to the concrete barrier walls of the bridge near Bear Creek. The artist’s design features a male and female salmon, an eagle, and a wolf from left to right. The two salmon symbolize the salmon’s return to the spawning grounds of Bear Creek to give new life and sustain eagles, bears, wolves, and people. The wolf represents the teacher and guide of the Kwantlen People while the eagle flying is carrying prayers to the Creator. The title of this artwork honours the connection of səmyəmɑʔɬ (Semiahmoo), q̓ic̓əy̓ (Katzie) and q̓ʷɑ:n̓ƛ̓ən̓ (Kwantlen) to this shared and unceded traditional territory.

This design was recommended by a committee of Elders of the Katzie, Kwantlen, and Semiahmoo First Nations. This project is one of a series of initiatives by the City of Surrey to include visual representations of reconciliation on civic facilities and infrastructure.

Shown in the image above are the three animals stacked on top of each other. In the installed version, the animals will be presented in a horizontal line.

About the Artist

Phyllis (Qwoy’tic’a) Atkins is a Kwantlen First Nation artist whose name means “I wear the clouds like a blanket” or “Shrouded in clouds.” Her name comes from the Nɬeʔkepmx language and it was given to her by her maternal grandfather Hereditary Chief Anthony Joe of the Shakan Band (Thompson River People). The artist is also part Sto:lo (People of the river).

Atkins has taken oil painting lessons from Barbara Boldt and hand-carved silver jewelry lessons by Master Carver Derek Wilson. In 2005, her and her husband Drew Atkins established their home-based business in Fort Langley, Kʼwyʼiʼyʼe Spring Salmon Studio, where they create both traditional and contemporary Coast Salish art, specializing in custom orders. They have an art gallery just outside of their home and welcome the public to visit by appointment.

Her other public artworks for the City of Surrey include Paddling through the Waves of Change and Returning to the River.